Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Dinner and the Parfait Parade

Many things have been said about chefs working on holidays – but I what I have honestly expected since graduating from being a line cook is that I could finally lean back on Christmas Eve and enjoy the show. But heck, all of that have been made false as four of my chefs were sent on our community outreach activity (aired last night on local channel, GMA 7) to cook cauldrons of food for three hundred poor people - a kitchen affair which I was supposed to participate myself.

Our marketing department has been nagging me for months - “Chef, please, you have to be there- with that toque and all!” It would have been my third appearance on national TV this year. Besides too much TV exposure (I still have my ETTV, remember?) would probably diminish my value :)

I just had to be true to my calling as a cook and therefore I had to stay in the kitchen.

So, which kitchen did I go to? Had I indeed become a Cinderella as my four step- brothers enjoyed their moment of celebrity while I sadly stirred soup in some kitchen?

Apparently, my schedules have been overhauled on the last few days as His Excellency The Tribe Chief requested that I stay in his party and see to it that the kids and the rest of the High Emperors are extremely satisfied.


But... but...I am not a Private Chef!

No questions, no questions. I am merely a small individual who has to obey the law… and so…

December 24 the whole day, while the four chefs were doing the mise en place for the Soup Kitchen, I was part checking on their work while wrapping harumaki, chopping asparagus and mandolined veggies (the mighty mandoline is my best friend now), made sauces- anything that would complete the dinner of the gods, instructing here and there the line cooks how to do the Japanese veggies, ball the melons, and that you don’t cut broccoli flowers straight with a knife for godssake…etcetera, etcetera…

Fast forward, and both the dinner and the Soup Kitchen were a big roaring success (take a bow, chefs!).

Meanwhile, at the Tribe Chief’s dinner, my main reason for being there is that by request, I had to make on-the-spot parfaits. How fun is that? A small table has been placed where I’d put the toppings, a chiller for the ice cream… and after meal, like a swarm of bees, these more-than-million-dollar kids started lining up asking for that “Ice cream thingie that the chef is doing” (hahaha)

The thrill was in the creating actually. Very challenging too. And- make it fast! Before I made one parfait, I had to look who’s asking… a sweet long- haired girl = vanilla + fruit cubes + chopped nuts + whipped cream + mint + maraschino cherry… a smart bespectacled twelve year old= chocolate + sliced bananas+ corn flakes + whipped cream + pretzel stick…so that no two parfaits look the same. One after the other until we ran out of dessert glasses we had to use those meant for martinis…

No matter what, this should be counted as one of my best Christmas Eves ever. Christmas can’t be choosy- whether you’re cooking for the underprivileged or the over-privileged… the question is –

-What did you give?

Merry Christmas to the World!

(I need a massage too! Whew!)

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